A month ago I wrote about the Ecclesia National Gathering in Washington, DC. Though I haven’t been to many conferences, it ranks as the best I’ve ever attended. What I appreciated most was that it combined the best of the academic world with innovative and experienced church planters and pastors. Represented were men and women sincerely concerned for the future of the church in an increasingly post-Christian America and who believe strongly that the answers to our declining influence are not to be found in the arena of technique or style (better methods of attracting people). The way forward, instead, must originate in a theological shift in our understanding of the church, wherein the Kingdom of God and the Mission of God are paramount.
I strongly urge you to visit the Ecclesia site and listen (for free) to the main session teachings. If you only listen to one, I would suggest Session 5 by Dr. Darrell Guder. In this lecture he unpacks the meaning and theology behind the word “missional.” Since the site does not provide them, I am including the session titles below. I hope this helps you choose which ones you’d like to listen to.
- Engaging: Missionary Strategies Then & Now
- Organizing: Structures for Incarnational Church
- Challenges: Barriers to Mission in the Western Context
- Leadership: Guiding Missional Movements
- Sending: Releasing the Lay Apostolate
- Communication: Hearing the Good News in Context
- Scripture: A Missional Hermeneutic